Spring migration is underway and we wanted to share with you our personal top 5 migratory birds that can be found at Tara starting in March. If you’d like to experience the colors and sounds of spring migration birding, join us for the Tara Spring Outdoor & Birding Weekend, in early May.
#1 Painted Bunting (Passerina ciris)
If you have ever seen this bird, there is no question why it’s our favorite. The male is a magnificent mixture of colors: vivid red, blue, green, and yellow. The bird looks as though it has painted with a paintbrush — a little color here, a little color there. The females and immature birds are yellow-green in color.
Look for these birds at the edges of fields and in the dense undergrowth of the woods or even in thick patches of weeds or grass alongside roads or streams. They are shy birds, so it takes a keen eye to spot them. Start looking for them at Tara in April.
- Learn more about painted buntings here: http://paintedbuntings.org/faq
- The song of the Painted Bunting is very musical. Listen to it at: http://macaulaylibrary.org/search?taxon=painted%20bunting&taxon_id=12012883&taxon_rank_id=67
#2 Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea)
This little bird is another favorite of ours due to its bright colors. Males are a brilliant gold with gray wings and females are only slightly less colorful.
If you are looking for Prothonotary Warblers, walking one of our nature trails might be the best option. These birds are found in bottomland forests and wooded swamps as well as along the edges of ponds or lakes. Be sure to keep an eye out for cavities in trees in which these birds like to build their nests.
- Learn more: http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/prothonotary-warbler
- Listen to the song: http://macaulaylibrary.org/search?taxon=Protonotaria%20citrea&taxon_id=12016246&taxon_rank_id=67&tab=audio
#3 Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)
If you like the color blue, this bird might end up being your favorite. Its vivid indigo feathers are glossy, appearing to shift colors in sunlight. Female indigo buntings are brown. Don’t confuse this bird with the bluebird, which has a red breast.
When walking around Tara, keep an eye on the tops of tall shrubs, trees, or electric lines where the males perch to sing. You most frequently find these birds in fields, old pastures, and along the edges of forests. During migration season, you might see these birds in flocks – so be ready! They begin to arrive at Tara in early April.
- Hear the call of the Indigo bunting: http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/indigo-bunting
#4 Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)
Ruby-throated hummingbirds are only about 3.5 inches long and weight just 1/8 of an ounce. They have iridescent red feathers adorning the underside of their neck and are green or gold-green on their backs and wings. Their breasts are white. Females and immature males do not have the ruby throats.
In spring and summer, these tiny, fast-flying birds can be found in the dozens clustering around the feeders we have sprinkled around the lodge. They are amazing acrobatic fliers and can provide hours of entertainment as they battle to defend their food source. Keep an eye out for them feeding on the flowers in our native plant garden as well.
For our nature photographers, it is hard to capture a great action photo of a hummingbird. You have to have a lot of patience and be very quick to catch the right shot.
One of our favorite things is the sound of hummingbirds chittering. It is definitely a harbinger of spring. Look for these birds at Tara starting in early March. Hear their calls at: http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/ruby-throated-hummingbird
#5 Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)
This bird is about 7 or 8 inches long, bigger than the other birds on our top 5 list. Males have a black head and back, black wings with two white bars, and an orange-gold breast. The color contrast is amazing. Females are olive-grey with a dull gold-orange breast.
We love to hear its odd song. Hear the calls of the Baltimore oriole: http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/baltimore-oriole
Look for the Baltimore oriole in our hardwood forests in early April.
Tara’s Spring Birding Weekend
If you’d like to experience the colors and sounds of spring migration, join us for the Tara Spring Outdoor & Birding Weekend, in spring. We have guided bird tours led by Audubon members or you can walk our nature trails or kayak on the pond to view birds.